Cambodians converted

LONG BEACH, Calif. — A conscious effort by members of the Long Beach Park (Cambodian) Branch to reactivate members resulted in 89 baptisms two years ago and a steady stream of converts since.

As a result, the branch became a ward in the Long Beach California East Stake during a special conference attended by about 300 members on Feb. 27.

Newly sustained Bishop Jeffrey A. Parry, who had been serving as branch president, said that as members returned to activity, they brought along with them — with the help of the full-time, Cambodian-speaking missionaries — other family members and friends.

When Bishop Parry was called as branch president in June 2000, he said there was an average of 65 members attending meetings. Now, he said, the average is more than 150.

As the Cambodian population began to grow in Long Beach in 1979, those who were members of the Church attended an English-speaking ward. The Cambodian branch was organized in 1985.

The organization of the new ward was conducted by Long Beach California East Stake President John L. Ward. The evening before, there was a reunion dinner attended by 450 current and past members, and missionaries who have served in the branch over the years.

Bishop Parry said that through his own research, he believes his ward is the Church's first Cambodian ward.